The Twins have a good chance to sign Torii Hunter if they are willing to meet his demand of a five-year contract calling for $15 million a year or $75 million in guaranteed money.
Earlier this year, Hunter turned down the Twins' offer of a three-year contract for $45 million, but people close to the center fielder say he wants to stay here and would accept the five-year offer.
The Twins have said they want their total payroll to be about 50-52 percent of their revenue. With that model, what it comes down to is that the Twins could be facing a choice of keeping either pitcher Johan Santana or Hunter. Keeping both would have a serious impact on the payroll in the years to come, perhaps hurting their ability to sign other players such as Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau.
By keeping Hunter and trading Santana, who has one more year on his contract before he can become a free agent, the Twins might be able to acquire the third baseman and designated hitter they need.
Without Hunter, the Twins are going to have a harder time marketing a team that struggled at the end of the season. Losing their longtime popular center fielder will make it harder for the Twins to sell tickets.
Hunter wants to play in the new Twins stadium, which is set to open in 2010, for more than one season. The Twins should do all they can to make this happen.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in baseball, there is a lot of speculation over what is going to happen to Joe Torre, the New York Yankees manager for the past 12 years but who might not be back for a 13th.
The latest word is that the Yankees might offer Torre a front-office job, and with him being 67 years old, this might be something he would accept.
And there is little doubt that the leading candidate for the Yankees managerial job is coach Don Mattingly.
Edge to offense
Vikings linebacker Ben Leber believes the NFL has set up all its rules in favor of offenses rather than defenses.
"You can't touch quarterbacks anymore, they get really ticky-tack on pass interference and holding calls, and they're giving offensive players a whole bunch of leeway when they push off of us in coverage," Leber said. "So I think there's a little bit of a double standard, but that's the way the game is. They want scoring and they want excitement, and that's how they can get it."
Leber said defensive players can get penalized for being aggressive.
"You want to play aggressive and you want to play aggressive defense and get after people, but they'll fine you or penalize you or whatever," he said. "So, it's kind of a fine line between how aggressive you can play."
Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald, whose team plays host to the Gophers on Saturday, is a big supporter of Gophers offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar. The two were on the Northwestern staff together from 2001 to '05, with Dunbar spending four of those years as Wildcats offensive coordinator.
Dunbar put in the spread offense the Wildcats are using, so maybe he can give the Gophers defensive staff some tips on how to stop it.
"Obviously, Mike is held in the highest respect and highest regard in this program," Fitzgerald said at his Monday news conference. "[He's] a great member of our family that brought so much success to the program while he was here, and a great impact on our recruits and a lot of our young men. ... It'll be a lot of fun and great to see him."